A reader wrote to ask why I don’t do more writer interviews. Good question. To do an interview with a writer, a bunch of things have to align:
1) I have to like their book.
2) So far I’ve only done face-to-face interviews, which means the writer and I have to occupy the same geographic space. Since I live in Tucson, this usually means “Arizona.” Since Tucson is a literary dead zone, this effectively means “Phoenix,” which is itself hardly a mecca for the written word; Phoenix is a cesspool of reality TV stars and those who aspire to be reality TV stars, people still stuck after the get-rich-quick real-estate atmosphere of the ’00s, and hard-core Republicans. And ASU students. None of those demographic groups are noted for their literary proclivity. There is a very nice bookstore named Changing Hands, however, which does attract a lot of writers, but Phoenix is still the sort of place touring writers maybe go to, as opposed to somewhere like Seattle or New York, where pretty much all of them go.
3) I have know they will be in Arizona, or wherever I am. This is harder than it sounds; booktour.com closed, and I don’t have the energy to track every living author I admire.
4) The writer has to have time for the interview, and their publisher has to be cooperative. For example, last Wednesday John Green of The Fault in Our Stars was in Phoenix, but Dutton Juvenile, his publisher, ignored the calls and e-mails I sent. This is pretty curious, since from what I can tell Green is on a publicity tour, but I also can’t control what publishers do.
(By the way: The Fault in Our Stars is good. Stick with it; the characters are slightly annoying over the first 30 or 40 pages, but they find their groove.)
5) My schedule has to work out. No one pays me to do interviews. If something else is going on—especially if that something else involves someone giving me money—I can’t do the interview even if I’d like to. This week I’ve been doing lots of paid consulting, trying to escape academic purgatory, teaching, and finishing query letters. Along with all the other stuff normal people do, like food, sex, and beer, which are at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
6) As a corollary to four, I do take a lot of time preparing for interviews: reading their book(s), trying to think up decent questions, reading other interviews so I don’t ask the same dumbass questions they’ve already been asked a million times, and so forth. So if I find a book kind of okay but not really interesting, I don’t seek the interview, which means there aren’t a huge number of opportunities at any given time.